Possession of Synthetic Drugs in Florida

 

Possessing Synthetic Drugs in Florida is illegal. The crime can be charged as either a first degree misdemeanor or third degree felony, depending on the weight of the drugs. Common synthetic drugs are K2 and Spice.

Possession Defined

To “possess” means to have personal charge of or exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the thing possessed. In synthetic drugs cases, a person may be in either actual or constructive possession of the synthetic drugs.

Actual possession means that the synthetic drugs are:

  1. Either in the hand of or on the person, or
  2. Either in a container in the hand of or on the person, or
  3. Within ready reach to the person and is under his or her control.

Constructive Possession means the synthetic drugs are in a place over which the person has control, or in which the person has concealed it. To prove the person was in constructive possession of synthetic drugs, the state must show (1) that the defendant knew of the presence of the synthetic drugs and (2) that the defendant had the ability to maintain dominion and control over the synthetic drugs.

The State will have difficulty proving constructive possession in the following situation:

  • The defendant drove a vehicle containing multiple people. The police lawfully pull the vehicle over for speeding. One of the passengers throws a bag containing synthetic drugs on the floor. The State will have difficulty proving that either the driver or the passenger constructively possessed the synthetic drugs, absent any additional incriminating evidence.


What Does The State Need To Prove?

To prove that a Defendant possessed synthetic drugs, the State must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The Defendant possessed a certain substance.
  2. The substance was the specific synthetic drugs alleged.
  3. The Defendant had knowledge of the presence of the synthetic drugs.

Penalties for Possession of Synthetic Drugs

Florida law states that possession less than 3 grams of synthetic drugs is a first degree misdemeanor. First degree misdemeanors are punishable by any combination of the following:

  1. 1 year in jail
  2. 1 year of probation
  3. $1,000 fine

Additionally, your privilege to drive will be suspended for one year upon conviction.

Florida law states that possessing more than 3 grams is a third degree felony. Third degree felonies are punishable by up to any combination of the following:

  1. 5 years in prison
  2. 5 years of probation
  3. $5,000 fine

Additionally, your privilege to drive will be suspended for one year upon conviction.

Possession of Synthetic Drugs Defenses

Fourth Amendment Violations 

The police often find synthetic drugs by violating a person’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals from the government engaging in unreasonable searches and seizures. A Fourth Amendment violation may result in suppression of the drugs. This means that the State cannot use the evidence of the drugs gathered by the police officer, typically resulting in a dismissal of the drug charge.

Common Fourth Amendment violations occur in the following scenarios: 

  1. The police did not have probable cause to believe that a traffic infraction occurred.
  2. The police did not have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime occurred, was happening or was about to occur.
  3. The police prolonged the traffic stop to “stall” for a K-9 to arrive at the scene of the traffic stop to sniff around the vehicle.
  4. The police searched a defendant when he or she did not voluntarily consent to a search.
  5. The police searched the defendant’s vehicle without his or her consent.
  6. The police searched a defendant’s belongings without his or her consent when the defendant was a passenger in a vehicle.
  7. The police conducted an illegal pat down search of the defendant.
  8. Invalid or no search warrant.

Inability to Prove Constructive Possession

Additionally, the State often has a difficult time proving that a defendant was in constructive possession of synthetic drugs, typically in joint constructive possession situations (ex. synthetic drugs found in a vehicle occupied by more than one person).

The law regarding possession can be confusing. What facts do and do not constitute possession are determined by case law, and require the knowledge of a skilled criminal defense attorney. The criminal lawyers at Bottari & Doyle will able to apply the facts of your case to the law to determine if the State will have a hard time proving their case. If the State’s case is factually weak, a prosecutor may completely dismiss the charge.

Contact Us

If you have been arrested or charged with Possession of Synthetic Drugs, in Palm Beach County, Martin County, Broward County or Dade County, contact a
Palm Beach criminal defense attorney from Bottari & Doyle at (561)-588-2781 for a free consultation.